I get this question all the time.
The short answer: “It depends.”
The long answer: “It depends, and here’s why….”
First, make sure the zipper needs replacing.
You wouldn’t believe how many customers I’ve had over the years, who just need a new zipper tab (also called a pull).
So, ask a few key questions before you take on the job.
Otherwise, you schedule them in, they come over and you figure out that’s not what they needed.
It’s a waste of their time and yours.
If the zipper tab is broken, they can go to JoAnn’s and buy a new one.
Actually, they are sold in pairs.
The customer can do the replacement themselves.
They are very appreciative of your honesty, the fact that they didn’t have to replace a zipper (more costly than a tab) and they’ll come back to you in the future and recommend you to others.
If your customer doesn’t want to replace the tab, you could do that for a small fee.
We have a canvas shop in town that will replace them for you for about a dollar.
They have all sorts of zipper tabs and parts and the tools to make the job easy.
But, let’s say that the customer really does need a new zipper….
Rule #1…always, always, have the customer go and buy the replacement zipper for you and bring it to you.
(Have I preached that lesson too many times?)
Two reasons why: first, they get what they like (You don’t have to guess) and second, you don’t have to spend that time shopping.
Now, are you sitting down?
For the most part, I don’t replace zippers anymore!
Yes, you heard me right.
Generally, and I repeat, generally, they take more time than the customer wants to spend on the replacement.
I charge by the time it takes.
Replace a few zippers and keep track of the time it takes you.
You will learn that some are easier and faster to remove than others.
It’s the removal that takes the majority of your time.
If your customer wants to save money, you could have them take the old zipper out and you just charge them to put the new one in.
I’ve offered that many times.
A few of you use the scalpel type seam ripper, because you say that it is much faster than conventional ripping, but it is something I have not dared to try on my customers items.
Since I am used to sewing mostly bridal wear, I can’t risk a human error by accidentally slicing the fabric in the wrong place.
I use a regular seam ripper.
There are other things to consider as well.
Denim jeans zippers are only 7-9 inches in length, but getting the new one back in can be quite difficult on certain brands.
Your machine may not be sturdy enough to handle a thick section of the jeans or jacket.
Sometimes, it’s easier to put in a sleeping bag zipper, (unless it’s stuffed with goose down).
At any rate, the bottom line is….I charge by the hour no matter what I am sewing on.
Some zippers take longer than others, hence the expense.
That way, I am not undercharging.
If I charge a flat fee, I am not able to increase it if I run into a difficult zipper, fabric, or other challenge.
That being said, here is a post on how to replace a zipper on a jacket..the jacket pictured above.
Hope this helps!